Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.02 5 Feb 2021


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The Justice Minister Helen McEntee says new restrictions on travel are unlikely be eased by the summer.

Mandatory self-quarantine laws have come into effect, meaning people arriving into the country must stay at home for 14 days.

Gardaí will be carrying out random spot checks to ensure people are quarantining at their address.

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Anyone found to not be quarantining faces a fine of up to €2,500 and/or up to six months in prison.

Minister McEntee told Newstalk Breakfast these measures are here to stay, at least for now.

"I do think that we're going to have some level of restrictions with us for some time.

"We've introduced the PCR testing for everybody and I can't see that changing even going into the summer.

"I think particularly as we're seeing variants change and adapt and new variants emerge, we need to keep these measures in place should the [Health] Minister need to identify a new country and for us to have stricter measures and quarantining measures.

"So I don't think this is something that will be here for the next month or two, unfortunately I think it will be much longer".

"I fully appreciate we all want a holiday, we'd all love to get on a plane and go somewhere warm and sunny - but given the fact that this changes so quickly I would just urge people to not do that yet".

She outlined how the new regulations will work.

"It's not that we're going to have thousands of Gardaí calling to the homes of every single person that comes into this country."

"There will be random checks to people's homes, ensuring that they are quarantining as they have said they would and as is the law to do so now".

"We don't want people coming back into the country or leaving and coming back, what we're trying to say and get the message across is that you shouldn't be leaving in the first instance.

"But if you do, not only do you face a penalty of now €100 to €500 on the way out [and] potentially on the way back, but you could have a Guard calling to your door to make sure that you are actually quarantining because it is now the law to do so".

Mandatory hotel quarantine

She also said that mandatory hotel quarantine will be in place "in a matter of weeks" for "more difficult regions where we do have new variants" - but legislation needs to be introduced first.

"There is legislation that we have to put in place, it's not just simply amending current legislation that we have.

"So it does take a little bit longer  - and we made that clear last week, that this was going to take a little bit of time.

"But I do hope that that's something we will have in place in the coming weeks".

She said this will include Brazil and South Africa, but can be amended if necessary.

McEntee: Travel restrictions unlikely to be eased by the summer

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However Professor Sam McConkey has criticised the regulations as 'intrinsically leaky' and too late.

Earlier he told Newstalk: "My take is that it's a step in the right direction but... this is a bit too weak.

"I think we should have done this last February or March of 2020, and that would probably have limited the pain that we had".

He suggested the system, as it stands, is "an invitation to leakiness".

"This law as it's framed, in my view, is intrinsically leaky - we're not leaky by some dint of our character or by our personality, we're leaky because we have laws that this that allow leakiness".

Main image: Minister for Justice Helen McEntee speaking to the media outside Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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Coronavirus Fines Gardai Helen McEntee Mandatory Self-quarantine Sam McConkey Spot Checks Travel Travel Restrictions

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